Valerie Jean Richardson
Nov 28, 2013 | 1402 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Valerie Jean Richardson climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2003, it took her five days to reach the summit and another two days to get off the mountain. Her final climb took almost three years, and, when she got to the top on Nov. 27, she just flew away.

Richardson was born in Peru, Ind., on Oct. 10, 1955. She loved the Lord, her family and serving others. Her career as a neonatal nurse practitioner came about because of her passion for helping others. She was a highly skilled nurse who was as adept at working with parents as she was newborns. She was a gifted clinician, a wonderful mentor and a caring team member.

Richardson was called to work in the mission field in her community, the U.S. and overseas. She asked God to use her for His glory and never backed away from a challenge. She started the Hope Kitchen at the First United Methodist Church in Jasper. She participated in numerous missions in the U.S., Central and South America, as well as Africa and Haiti. In July, Life is Hope, a group with orphanages in Haiti, dedicated the Valerie Richardson Mission Center with a plaque that said, “May her unshakeable faith, indomitable spirit and love for mission work inspire all who visit here. “

Cancer was a frequent companion during the last twelve years, but it only deepened her faith and strengthened her resolve, which was pretty much off the scale already. After a bilateral mastectomy and major reconstructive surgery on a Monday, she was sitting in church the following Sunday. When she heard about a group of local breast cancer survivors who were going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Richardson was all in. On a climb where only 40 percent make it to the summit, she carried prayer flags honoring others with breast cancer and watched the sunrise from the top of the mountain.

Diagnosed with colon cancer in late 2010, she underwent surgery, which was followed by radiation treatments and chemotherapy. All the while she continued to work full time, kept up with her service at church and still found the energy to do mission work out of the country. When the cancer spread to her liver and lungs, it was more surgery and chemotherapy. She soldiered on, going back to work as soon as she could and seeking new ways to serve in the mission field. Richardson’s faith made her luminous and at times she appeared to be lit from the inside. Even in the last stages of her illness, her compassion for others was on display for all to see. Those who met her would be quick to agree that if anyone deserved to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when she crossed over, it was her.

She is survived by her husband, Ron; sons, Jordan, Cameron, Graham and Colin; a granddaughter, McKinley Richardson; father, William Saxton; brother, Bill Saxton (Mary); half-brother, Darrell Pike; and half-sisters, Melinda Halbig and Christel Pike.

A celebration of life service will be held for Richardson at the Jasper First United Methodist Church on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, at 2 p.m.

Visitation will be at the church starting at noon the day of the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Hope Ministries at Jasper First United Methodist Church.

Collins-Burke Funeral Home, Jasper; 205-384-5571